CommunityFDL Main Blog

Handouts for Me but Not for Thee

[Ed. note: Ned Resnikoff is one of Spencer Ackerman’s guest bloggers filling in at Attackerman during Spencer’s holiday. Welcome Ned in comments.]

Yesterday Steve Benen and Josh Marshall drew attention to the story of a far-right militiaman who’s opposed to “socialism” and “government handouts” in the abstract, but is perfectly happily to live off government disability checks–money which, to be fair, and as Benen points out, he is absolutely entitled to.

But this goes back to something I and others have been arguing for a while: that to talk about “conservative principles” in relation to either the modern Republican Party or the Tea Party makes no sense whatsoever. Hell, to try to think of either organization in any sort of normative terms doesn’t make sense, because the Tea Party platform is fueled entirely by a combination of blind emoting and personal convenience. The GOP, of course, just sort of goes along with this.

To recall a couple other greatest hits:

-Handouts, as we established above, are horrible, but Medicare is awesome.

-And my personal favorite: people who murder innocents by crashing planes into buildings in the service of a political statement are inhuman monsters except, um,

Ted Kennedy’s successor, ladies and gentlemen.

The point isn’t to draw attention to hypocrisy, because I think this is worse than hypocrisy. It’s the flat-out rejection of any kind of universally applicable ethical standards. Instead, those standards have been replaced by an incredibly elegant, simple little system:

The moral good are causes we like or which directly benefit us. Evil is whatever our opponents propose, or whatever benefits them. So anything that is bad for them and/or good for us is good, and anything that is good for them and/or bad for us is evil.

To tie this back into Spencer’s field, we can see the echoes of the Bush administration’s Manichaean foreign policy (re: Dick Cheney’s insistence that we can only defeat Al Qaeda by operating on “the dark side”) in this attitude, and that’s not a coincidence. The GOP isn’t directly responsible for the current spike in right-wing political violence, vandalism and death threats, but it is absolutely a consequence of the deeply distorted ethical thinking they’ve been promoting for years.

attackermanCommunity

Handouts for Me but Not for Thee

Yesterday Steve Benen and Josh Marshall drew attention to the story of a far-right militiaman who’s opposed to “socialism” and “government handouts” in the abstract, but is perfectly happily to live off government disability checks–money which, to be fair, and as Benen points out, he is absolutely entitled to.

But this goes back to something I and others have been arguing for a while: that to talk about “conservative principles” in relation to either the modern Republican Party or the Tea Party makes no sense whatsoever. Hell, to try to think of either organization in any sort of normative terms doesn’t make sense, because the Tea Party platform is fueled entirely by a combination of blind emoting and personal convenience. The GOP, of course, just sort of goes along with this.

To recall a couple other greatest hits:

-Handouts, as we established above, are horrible, but Medicare is awesome.

-And my personal favorite: people who murder innocents by crashing planes into buildings in the service of a political statement are inhuman monsters except, um,

Ted Kennedy’s successor, ladies and gentlemen.

The point isn’t to draw attention to hypocrisy, because I think this is worse than hypocrisy. It’s the flat-out rejection of any kind of universally applicable ethical standards. Instead, those standards have been replaced by an incredibly elegant, simple little system:

The moral good are causes we like or which directly benefit us. Evil is whatever our opponents propose, or whatever benefits them. So anything that is bad for them and/or good for us is good, and anything that is good for them and/or bad for us is evil.

To tie this back into Spencer’s field, we can see the echoes of the Bush administration’s Manichaean foreign policy (re: Dick Cheney’s insistence that we can only defeat Al Qaeda by operating on “the dark side”) in this attitude, and that’s not a coincidence. The GOP isn’t directly responsible for the current spike in right-wing political violence, vandalism and death threats, but it is absolutely a consequence of the deeply distorted ethical thinking they’ve been promoting for years.

Previous post

President Announces Fifteen Recess Appointments, Including Craig Becker

Next post

Obama Appoints Two Democratic Nominees to NLRB, Leaves GOP Nominee Behind

Ned Resnikoff

Ned Resnikoff